The Art of Living in Grand County |

The Art of Living in Grand County

Kristen Lodge / Outdoor Adventures
Grand County, Colorado

Does art inspire life or does life inspire art? Here in Grand County I think it is both. Local artists inspire me to take a hike around Monarch Lake. Here’s how:

Last Friday I walked into Elk Horn Art Gallery in Winter Park to see Stacey Peterson and Cydney Springer – a€œArtist to Watch Show.a€ As I toured the show, I saw Springer’s a€œEvensong,a€ an oil of Monarch Lake. The colors of the mountains above the lake are a blue-gray hue with two mountain ridges coming together in the distance.

Then I see Stacey Peterson’s, a€œMonarch Lake Sunset.a€ It depicts the setting sun reflected on the Monarch Lake.

Stacey tells me that, as a painter, a€œMonarch Lake is one of those spots that have a bit of everything: mountains, still reflections, trees, rocks. Cyd and I have painted there together during the Plein air event.a€

I must go to Monarch Lake to see the exact spot where these oil paintings were created. And that is exactly what I do.

The first step toward finding the artist’s vision a€” getting a day pass for the Arapaho National Recreation Area. I stop at the Forest Service in Granby to pay $5 for a one-day admission pass and a map. It is five miles to County Road 5 and then five miles more to the parking area. Despite being only 10 miles from Route 34, I feel deep in the woods.

The caretaker advises to take the trail clockwise. The loop is 3.9 miles.

The trail is well maintained (thank you Forest Service). There are rocky parts and gradual ups and downs. I pass the Wilderness Boundary sign marking the entrance to the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area. I see a few hikers that look like they’ve been out for a few days. I turn onto the Arapaho Pass Trail and stop at the Steam Donkey. I go off trail to the beach and look south. I’m starting to see where the mountains come together; I’m getting closer.

At the end of the loop I see it the place where Cydney mostly like created the painting. The blue light is the same as I remember in the oil painting. I don’t see many people hiking this trail and wonder how many people have done it. It took me two years and three months to get here.

So what do you do when you need to take a survey to find out how many people come up here? You e-mail your Facebook friends and ask them if they’ve ever hiked the trail around Monarch Lake.

Of 22 Facebook friends I e-mailed, 15 have been to Monarch Lake and seven have not. And, there is no correlation between the number of years they have lived here and hiking the loop trail. But it makes me wonder if anyone I know is inspired to find a place based on art.

My friend Sharon and her husband, Ron Schoenberger, live in Granby. Ron tells me the story of a painting by Robert Wood he had in his office in downtown Chicago. Three years ago when Ron and Sharon moved to Grand County, he was unpacking boxes and discovered the painting from his office. After researching the painting, he discovered that the mountain was Mt. Adams in Rocky Mountain National Park. He has been trying to figure out how to get to the view ever since; now that is a worthy outdoor adventure inspired by art.

Joan and Roger Shaw were inspired to spend time outdoors when they discovered a painting from Donnafred Hoff. It was a light green tree grove and a decayed tree stump in a hazy mist. Many years later when the painting was given to them as a gift from the artist, it inspired them to camp in the Adirondacks and look for a similar setting. Eventually, Joan and Roger moved to the Rocky Mountains. a€œWe now live in our painting in Fraser in a log homea€.

Now that is an outdoor life inspired by art.

The Stacey Peterson and Cydney Springer – a€œArtist to Watch Showa€ ends Sept. 7. Go be inspired.